Arundel Fire Union Head Says Leopold is Under Investigation

… Leader says he was contacted about delivery of check to police driver; election opponent says she has been contacted as well …

By Nicole Fuller and Andrea F. Siegel, The Baltimore Sun

1:22 PM EDT, March 16, 2011

The head of the Anne Arundel County firefighters union says the Office of the State Prosecutor is investigating allegations that Anne Arundel County Executive John R. Leopold sent a member of his county-supplied police security detail to pick up a campaign contribution check from the union office last fall.

Craig Oldershaw, president of the union, said Wednesday that he was contacted late last week by a member of that state office, which can investigate and prosecute public officials, and spoke with him about the incident that he said took place around Sept. 26. Oldershaw said he was told that the staff member heard Oldershaw was “one of the ones that Leopold sent his driver to pick up a check.”

Oldershaw said the police driver picked up a $4,000 check from the firefighters’ political action committee after a political candidates interview event. Two other people, his office manager and the PAC chairman were there, he said.

“I thought it was a little unusual, and a little much, taking advantage of his county-paid detail to do that,” he said. He said he had not recalled that happening previously.

He said he was expecting to send a copy of the check to the prosecutor’s office as early as today.

Among duties of Leopold’s security detail officers is serving as Leopold’s driver.

Joanna L. Conti, Leopold’s Democratic opponent in last year’s election, this morning told The Sun that she has also spoken to an investigator with the state prosecutor’s office about Leopold, but declined to offer details.

The firefighters and other unions are in the midst of contract negotiations, and Oldershaw was among public safety union leaders who angrily opposed Leopold’s successful move to dump binding arbitration with the unions in recent weeks.

Leopold did not respond to a request for comment and a member of the state prosecutor’s office would neither confirm nor deny Oldershaw’s account or that an investigation was underway.

The county executive was quoted in The (Annapolis) Capital Wednesday questioning the timing of the investigation, and arguing that complaints about his activities are linked to his stance on binding arbitration.

Copyright © 2011, The Baltimore Sun

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